Over the years, political candidates have requested Norman Fraternal Order of Police’s endorsement. This is due to the fact that the Norman Police Department has always been a well-respected department across the region. The forward-thinking ideas regarding community outreach and policing have brought great credit upon the agency throughout time. Mayor Breea Clark sought our endorsement in 2019 and promised to provide support and equipment. Based upon her statements at the time, our Norman FOP Lodge# 122 agreed to endorse Clark for Mayor.
It has become clear that the mayor was only concerned with getting elected and had no intentions of supporting our officers.
Because of her actions, the Norman FOP Lodge# 122 rescinds our endorsement of Mayor Clark.
On June 16, 2020, the mayor and city council of Norman passed an amendment to reduce the NPD budget by $865,000 — a cut of nearly $1 million — during a dark-of-night meeting. The approved amendment dictated that funds be taken directly from the account for our agency which pays for current and future officers.
Now facing political pressure, city leaders and their allies are downplaying the impact of this decision, arguing the Norman Police Department received an “increase” of $100,000 when the council approved an $850,000 budget reduction.
Their logic is that since the original budget amendment proposal was $950,000, they “increased” the budget. This is disingenuous.
The truth is, it will cripple Norman’s police department. Because of the vote, officer positions were stripped from the agency that were slated to be filled during the next police academy. These nine positions may seem insignificant to some, however within our agency it translates to an entire shift of officers not patrolling the streets, or a section of detectives not working burglary, rape or robbery cases.
For years, NPD has participated in the Benchmark Study Survey which compares our workforce strength and crime statistics against 28 other cities of comparable size.
Based upon data within the 2019 study, due to the city council’s recent vote the NPD will now average 1.37 officers per 1,000 citizens, which is below the categorical average of 1.41 officers. Couple this with the fact our department has the highest average of calls for service (779 per 1,000 citizens), compared to the categorical average (452 per 1,000).
It is now clear to all of us at the Norman Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge# 122 that the police budge was targeted due to unrelated news across the nation.
However, regardless of national events, we in Norman maintain the tenets of integrity, accountability, mutual respect, service attitude and partnerships.
Regardless of decisions made by the mayor and city council, we will continue to strive to be the best police department in the state, even though radical ideologues within our city government could very well hinder our ability to provide the level of service to which we have all become accustomed.
Wasoski is president of the Norman Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #122.